When I was 19, I lived in a furnished room on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. My kitchen table was the bathtub with a cover over it. I had no shower, and the common toilet was down the hall where some guy named Michael kept trying to get in. I was going to college at night, working in the mailroom of an insurance company by day and taking home something like $48 a week. Given the rhetoric of recent days, this qualifies me for president of the United States.
I was what is sometimes called “voluntarily poor.” I could have gone home to my parents, where a guest bedroom awaited. I probably could have hit up some relative for a short-term loan. What mattered most, however, was that I was in college. I would graduate someday, get a job, a wife, 2 kids, a split-level in the suburbs and live the conventional American dream. I was not stuck. I was on my way.
Ann and Mitt Romney had similar days. In her speech to the Republican National Convention, Ann referred to those times of jolly penury. “We were very young. Both still in college. There were many reasons to delay marriage, and you know what? We just didn’t care. We got married and moved into a basement apartment. We walked to class together, shared the housekeeping, ate a lot of pasta and tuna fish. Our desk was a door propped up on sawhorses. Our dining-room table was a fold-down ironing board in the kitchen. But those were the best days.”
The theme of Ann Romney’s speech —